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‘New paradigm’ color vision CE available at Optometry’s Meeting®

A note sent home from school is enough to catch any parent off guard; however, consider the mixture of emotions when that note isn't corrective, but perspective by nature.

"Color-vision testing can lead to clues in diagnosis, as well as aid in monitoring resolution of disease over time and/or with treatment."

"He painted Lincoln's face green," recalls Terrace Waggoner, O.D., of his then-6-year-old son, T.J. "His teachers mentioned he was having difficulty learning his colors and concepts, such as grouping same or different colored objects. Like the teacher, I thought it was a learning disability. I did not think it could be a visual problem."

But there it was in black and white: T.J. is "colorblind," the note from the school nurse read.

It was a puzzling assessment considering the boy had seen a pediatric eye doctor prior to preschool, though the doctor later confided it wasn't a test she typically ran on children so young. Time restraints and the obvious difficulty of assessing young children often precluded such tests until children were older, something even Dr. Waggoner acknowledged at the time: "We all waited until the child was six years old and knew their numbers."

As adjunct faculty at Southern California College of Optometry, Dr. Waggoner queried his colleagues to learn everything he could about color vision deficiencies. Ultimately, that led to creation of a 'pediatric' color vision test using colored circles, stars and rectangles, employed as far and wide as the Special Olympics.

Such tests make it easier to detect color vision deficiencies (CVD), but is eye care giving the condition enough consideration?

"The answer to that is a big N.O.," Dr. Waggoner writes.

CVD, computerized tests and optometry

Encompassing a group of conditions that affect color perception, CVD can be congenital or acquired secondary to ocular conditions, drug interactions or chemical exposure. Limited or lost function of protan (red cone) and deutan (green cone) photopigments in the eye result in the vast majority of CVD-nearly 99 percent-where certain pigments appear indistinguishable or of varied contrast. True "colorblindness," known as monochromacy-perceiving no color whatsoever-is quite rare and often associated with decreased visual acuity, nystagmus or photophobia.

The red-green defect is the most common form of CVD, affecting as many as 8 percent of men and 0.5 percent of women with northern European ancestry. While congenital CVD is much more common in males, acquired CVD affects men and women equally, often indicative of another pathology.

"Color vision testing can lead to clues in diagnosis, as well as aid in monitoring resolution of disease over time and/or with treatment," notes Lt. Cmdr. Kyle Dohm, O.D., an associate research investigator at the Naval Aerospace Medical Institute (NAMI) in Pensacola, Florida.

"New computerized color vision testing allows for more objective measurements and yields both quantitative, as well as qualitative information about the patient's color vision perception. Of course, color vision deficiencies can be congenital, but when they are acquired, having this extra diagnostic ability is value added for a higher level of patient care."

Color-vision testing was an afterthought for Dr. Dohm, until joining a research team with Dr. Waggoner and Capt. Matthew Rings, M.D., NAMI Color Vision Research director. There, the team compared and validated numerous color-vision testing programs for screening and assessment of aviation applicants and other personnel. Their research influenced the color-vision testing methods used to ensure aviators' vision is up to snuff, establishing an objective and accurate computerized assessment.

Why computerized assessments versus a traditional plate test? Dr. Waggoner explains that computerized tests produce "excellent sensitivity and specificity" to screen tritan color-vision deficiencies, or the blue-yellow defect.

"A tritan deficiency will be detected way earlier than a protan/deutan deficiency, thus a disease process will be detected at an earlier stage," Dr. Waggoner notes. "Color-vision testing is a non-invasive, 90-second medical test that can raise a 'red' flag, justifying further testing."

That's why Drs. Waggoner and Dohm are eager to share their findings during an Optometry's Meeting® continuing education (CE) course, titled, "The New Paradigm - Computerized Color Vision Testing," in Denver, this June. Their course will offer the basics of color vision and highlight the latest technology, including computerized color vision tests, Dr. Dohm says. Part of this lecture will review the latest color-vision research being performed by the U.S. Navy, and will include an occupational performance-based color-vision assessment with a focus on aviation.

"Our goal is to make every optometrist more comfortable with color-vision testing, its utility in practice and the availability of the newest technology," Dr. Dohm says. "We would like optometric practitioners to be more comfortable performing occupational, performance-based, color-vision assessments."

Adds Dr. Waggoner: "Too often I have heard parents repeat, 'all the doctor said is my child is colorblind; there is no cure, and that is all he told me.' I want attendees to walk away with thoughts and ideas of how they can help their patients who are color deficient and, in turn, pass that information along to parents with color-deficient children, teachers, colleagues, etc."

Click here to read more about CVD in the March 2017 issue of AOA Focus.

Want to attend?

Here's what you need to know to earn two CE credit hours in color-vision testing during Friday's marathon CE After Dark track. Dress down and join colleagues Friday night for 'after hours' CE, 5 p.m. to midnight.

What: "The New Paradigm - 'Computerized' Color Vision Testing
7-9 p.m., Friday, June 22
Course Number:

Earn up to 40 hours of CE credits across five days when Optometry's Meeting convenes in Denver, Colorado, June 20-24, and return to your practice with industry best practices in clinical care, practice management, staff training and more. Open the CE catalog today to start charting your courses through Optometry's Meeting-here's why.

Online registration is fast, easy and preferred-simply click here to register today.

April 23, 2018

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